PORT WASHINGTON -- Patty Couts of Port Washington Elementary is the 2018 Teacher of the Year for State Board of Education District 9 and one of five finalists for next year's Ohio Teacher of the Year, according to an announcement made by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria. With 24 years of teaching experience under her belt, including 20 years at Port Washington Elementary, Couts is an award-winning and highly respected kindergarten teacher.

"Teachers are changing lives and creating futures not only for the students, but for our communities, our state and our nation," DeMaria said. "The Ohio Teacher of the Year program recognizes influential and inspiring educators who demonstrate some of the things I love most about teachers: they take our system to higher heights and continue the path toward excellence."

The Ohio Department of Education invited school districts to nominate teachers for the District 9 award. State Board of Education member Stephanie Dodd worked with a committee of educators, parents and business leaders to select Couts as the recipient.

Dodd said, "I was impressed by the work Patty is doing and the positive impact she is making in her classroom and in the lives of our students."

Indian Valley Schools Superintendent Ira Wentworth said, "Patty Couts is a strong and compassionate leader of her students and our community. She is involved in many projects throughout our school district and dedicates a large portion of classroom time to teaching her kindergarteners about their connections to their county."

This fall, the state superintendent will announce the Ohio Teacher of the Year, who is selected from the pool of State Board district winners by a panel of education and community stakeholders. The Ohio Teacher of the Year will represent our state in the national Teacher of the Year competition sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2018.